27.03.2023 at 19:45 Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland
0 - 1
Referee: Artur Dias (POR)
Euro 2024 Qualifier / PROG-match
France defeated Ireland 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium this evening in the Boys in Green's opening qualifying game for Euro 2024.
It was a game performance from Ireland, who put the French under monumental pressure at the end of both halves.
But Benjamin Pavard's wondergoal coupled with a pair of sensational late Mike Maignan saves consigned the home side to defeat.
There was a feeling of hope and optimism in the air ahead of the game. 10 minutes before kick-off, the Aviva Stadium was packed to the rafters and cultivated one of the best atmospheres witnessed at Lansdowne Road in recent years.
Buoyed by the support, Ireland looked to make a fast start as Evan Ferguson flashed a cross toward goal that evaded everyone in a green shirt.
Rocked by the atmosphere, the French tried to take the sting out of the game but a couple of out-of-character errors stifled their progress.
Adrien Rabiot's passing was off early doors, and even Kylian Mbappe was sloppy in possession.
That being said France had by far the best chance of the first-half eight minutes in when Dayot Upamecano's searching ball found Kolo-Muani. The fleet-footed French forward rounded Gavin Bazunu and played the ball back towards Olivier Giroud, but Nathan Collins read the danger and hacked the ball away.
Ireland grew into the game as the half wore on and were the better side for the final 15 minutes or so. Kenny's men piled on the pressure with a string of corners and free-kicks, but the French resistance stood firm to keep it at 0-0.
Within five minutes of the restart, all that good work had been undone.
Benjamin Pavard pounced on a loose Josh Cullen ball on the edge of the Irish area and fired a rocket into the top corner of Bazunu's goal.
A really poor and uncharacteristic piece of play from the seemingly always neat-and-tidy Anderlecht star.
The goal took the air out of the Aviva Stadium and France took control of the game. The dangerous Moussa Diaby, introduced in the second half for Olivier Giroud, stung the palms of Bazunu shortly after entering the fray.
Rabiot was denied by Bazunu shortly after, with the Southampton man stopping a long-range piledriver from the Juventus star.
But just as in the first half, Ireland ended the second period the strongest.
Adam Idah and Mikey Johnston's introduction brought some much needed verve to Ireland's play, with France seemingly happy enough with the 1-0 scoreline.
Roared on by the home crowd, Ireland pushed for an equaliser in the closing minutes.
And they nearly got one when James McClean forced a fine stop out of Maignan after bursting into the box.
But that was to be the story of the closing stages as Maignan produced two wonderful saves to deny Ireland. The first to stop Konate scoring an own goal was spectacular enough, but his save from Nathan Collins moments later was special.
Flying to his left, Maignan clawed the ball out of the top corner to keep Ireland scoreless.
Ireland could muster no more chances and the French saw out the remaining minutes well.
A positive performance from Ireland who easily could have taken something from the game. But another harsh lesson on the importance of taking your chances when in the ascendancy.
Should Ireland play to this level for the remainder of the campaign, Euro 2024 qualification will be a genuine possibility.
And this raises another issue.
We still don't know what Irish side will turn up from game to game. Play like tonight and who knows how far Ireland can rise. Play as they did against Latvia and we may give up all hope.
Some bright sparks amidst the darkness, but consistency is needed for Ireland to reach the level Stephen Kenny wants to play at.
Athens is next up in June for this confounding team. Will it be 'Jekyll' or 'Hyde' that turns up against Greece?
The Republic of Ireland succumbed to an early second-half strike by Benjamin Pavard to give France three points in the first qualification match for Euro 2024.
27th Mar 2023
Ireland was denied in the latter stages of the contest as efforts from James McClean, Alan Browne and Nathan Collins were all denied by French keeper Mike Maignan.
Stephen Kenny made six changes from the side that defeated Estonia last week with France making three changes from their victory against the Netherlands.
The first sight of a goal fell to the visitors when a long ball from Griezmann found Kolo Muani’s run and despite getting past Bazunu his angle was too tight to take a shot on goal.
The French defence blocked Jason Knight's set piece and Josh Cullen's second free kick into the French penalty area. Bazunu was forced into a smart save following a Griezmann corner that was headed goalward by Giroud that Cullen attempted to head clear, Bazunu was brave to dive low to his right to stop the ball from falling into the path of Mbappé.
Hernández took a shot from outside the Irish area with his effort taking a deflection that forced it wide. Pavard’s first-time cross found Griezmann at the near post but his header struck the side netting.
Before half-time, Ireland had several chances from set pieces, the best of which came when Josh Cullen's delivery was headed goalward by Egan. O'Shea then received the ball, but his shot towards the goal was stopped.
France opened the scoring early in the second half as Rabiot played a pass from the left wing to the edge of the area that gave Cullen the ball. But, Pavard pounced on his forward pass and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the goal via the underside of the bar.
Jason Knight broke free of the French defence and he tried to latch onto a Coleman pass but it was just overhit and was easily collected by Maignan. As Diaby gained space on the right side of the Irish area, Bazunu made a superb save to deny his low curling attempt.
He was to make another fantastic save from long range as Rabiot found space outside the Irish area and struck a low effort that Bazunu did excellently to stop.
Molumby had a goalbound shot blocked for a corner following some excellent work by Ogbene to set up the attempt. This was followed by an effort by James McClean to be tipped wide by Maignan as the Irish wingers' low effort forced him into a save.
Ireland continued to press with Alan Browne's strike from distance going wide of Maignan’s far post.
Ireland had two excellent chances to score from two corners as Alan Browne forced Maignan to make a finger-tip save to deny the Irish midfielder.
On the subsequent corner, Collins' header at the back post was pushed away by the French goalkeeper to ensure the French victory.
Republic of Ireland: Bazunu (GK), Coleman ©, O'Shea (Browne 78), Egan, Cullen, Doherty (McClean 77), N. Collins, Molumby (Obafemi 85), Knight (Johnston 77), Ferguson (Idah 64), Ogbene.
Subs not used: Kelleher (GK), Travers (GK), Omobamidele, Hendrick, Sykes, McGrath, Smallbone.
France: Maignan (GK), Pavard (Koundé 81), Upamecano, Griezmann, Giroud (Diaby 64), Mbappé ©, Kolo Muani (M. Thuram 90), Konaté, Rabiot (Tchouameni 81), Camavinga, T. Hernández.
Subs not used: Samba (GK), Areola (GK), Disasi, Fofana, Veretout, Todibo, K. Thuram, Coman.
Booked: Pavard (France), Molumby (Republic of Ireland), Egan (Republic of Ireland)
Sent Off: None
Player of the Match: Chiedozie Ogbene.
Referee: Artur Dias (POR)